MLB Opening Day Roundtable: Detroit Tigers and MLB Staff Predictions

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Mar 29, 2015; Clearwater, FL, USA; Detroit Tigers first baseman Cabrera (24) in the dugout against the Philadelphia Phillies at Bright House Field. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports


Tom Z.: I believe the Detroit Tigers will win the American League Central because I believe they will be healthy. If they are not healthy, they will have a very tough go in 2015. Verlander will be better than he was in 2014. He may not be the pitcher he once was, but he will be better. If Miggy and V-Mart get healthy early in the season and last 162 games, the Tigers have the best lineup in the division.

The White Sox may have the better 1-2 punch at the front of their rotation, but I believe the Tigers have the best starting staff 1-5. The team to watch for me this year is the Indians. The Tribe have a lot of young talent and I think they put it together this year and make a run to the postseason. They will be the team the Tigers fight down the stretch in September and edge to win their 5th straight AL Central Crown.

Matt: This is the third year I have made preseason predictions for Motor City Bengals and it is the first year I am not picking them to win the World Series. Fool me once, shame on you, fool me twi…yadda yadda yadda. I honestly believed that those Tigers’ teams in 2013 and 2014 had the tools to win the World Series. This year? Not so much.

Back in November I wrote that if Dave Dombrowski did not address the bullpen, the Tigers would miss the playoffs and I stand by that. The bullpen may actually, in fact, be worse than a year ago. We also know that the rotation is going to be worse (swapping out Max Scherzer and Rick Porcello for Shane Greene and Alfredo Simon is not an upgrade) and now with Justin Verlander‘s injury it is anyone’s guess if he will be able to improve after last season’s performance.

Sure the lineup will be better with Yoenis Cespedes in the six-hole, defense will be better and the team will probably stick to being aggressive on the base pads–something they stopped doing midway through last year.

The Indians and White Sox are better, the Royals worse and the Twins still a non-factor. I am not sure the division as a whole is as better as some are saying because the big dog from the last half decade, the Tigers, have regressed. I see Cleveland emerging from the division with about 88 wins, just edging out the White Sox with 86 wins and the Tigers with 85 wins, but only the Indians will head to the postseason from the division.

Since I picked the Tigers to win it all the last two years, maybe I will reverse jinx them this year!

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  • Steve:  The Detroit Tigers quest for their fifth straight AL Central Division will come down to the last week of baseball, but they just won’t have enough to get it done.  Their lineup will be solid but I think Victor Martinez is going to battle back to getting healthy and his bat will be missed in the lineup.  Cespedes will add depth and JD Martinez will have another solid year.  Cabrera will post MVP numbers and in, in my mind likely win it.

    The key reasons the Tigers won’t win this year are the rotation – they are two down from where they were this year.  Simon will not be consistent and will be replaced at some point and end up in the bullpen.  Greene will be consistent much like Porcello was last year, but not Porcello.  The bullpen is the weak spot. It’s disappointing to see that we are back to where we left against the Orioles with the triumverate of Soria, Chamberlain and Nathan.  The only good thing about the bullpen is that Phil Coke is gone.  They will lose us too many games this year.

    Josh: Let me say this upfront, the Cleveland Indians are the most overrated club in MLB. Sure, they have the reigning Cy Young and Michael Brantley placed third in AL MVP voting. But last time I checked that’s only two players on a 25-man roster. To win a division, or really anything baseball, completeness is essential. A well-rounded team that has strengths in every aspect will ultimately come out on top. That’s why the winner of the AL Central will either be the Chicago White Sox or the Detroit Tigers.

    Both have great lineups top to bottom, with Detroit having the better batting order. But Detroit’s pitching staff, both starters and relievers, are weak in comparison to Chicago. Both have equal one and two starters, with Jeff Samardzjia and Chris Sale in Chicago, David Price and Anibal Sanchez in Detroit. From there, Detroit weakens and Chicago is able to stand their ground. I love Shane Greene but with Verlander injured and Simon struggling it’s tough to have completeness in that rotation. The Sox have John Danks, Jose Quintana, and a very young LHP by the name of Carlos Rodon waiting to break out.

    The rotation in the Windy City does not thin out like it does in Motown. The Tigers bullpen is abysmal and day after day they get knocked around in Spring Training. It’s definitely something to worry about. The Sox made a nice addition with David Robertson and Zach Duke, meaning they have both a setup and closer.

    The Tigers literally have no idea what they have the bullpen right now. Joe Nathan is a fire the team keeps trying to put out, Bruce Rondon is injured, and nobody knows what to expect from Joakim Soria. The White Sox are the much more complete team and that’s why they will win the AL Central in 2015. I see a ALCS matchup of Detroit and Chicago, with Chicago heading to the World Series.

    Dave: I truly have a hard time predicting what is going to happen in the AL Central this season. The Indians are the fan favorite, the White Sox are the most improved team, the Royals are defending American League Champions, and the Tigers are the four-time defending AL Central champions. It’s probably safe to say the Minnesota Twins will finish in last.

    Ultimately, the Tigers have left too many unanswered questions in spring training for me to pick them to win the division again. The top of the lineup should be one of the best in the American League, but there is very little depth if anyone gets injured, and the team has health concerns with Victor Martinez and Jose Iglesias.

    The rotation also has no depth, and Verlander is already nursing a triceps injury. Before the injury, I truly felt Verlander was due for a big bounce back season, and although the injury could be minor, it’s now hard to say with any confidence that Verlander is poised for a big season.

    Finally, the bullpen is a disaster. It was a mess before spring training, and it is even worse heading into April. Not even sure how that’s possible. With other teams in the AL Central on the rise, Detroit takes a step back this season.

    More from Detroit Tigers News

    Zane: While the AL Central is widely viewed as a division that is up for the grabs, I view that as more of a narrative than a reality. People are tired of talking about Lebron James as MVP, and people are tired of the Detroit Tigers winning the AL Central. As I see it, the Tigers are actually poised to win this division by more games than they have in the past.

    To begin, they project to be much better on defense with Kinsler, Gose, Cespedes, and Iglesias. Beyond that, their offense has the ability, on paper, to somehow be better than it was in 2014. And, finally, I think their pitching will be better than the storyline suggests. Sure, Porcello, and Scherzer are gone, but I really only view Greene as the lone question mark.

    In a bigger ballpark, with that defense, Simon will do just fine. And, as Buster Olney stated in his Baseball Tonight podcast, scouts say that prior to tweaking his tricep, Verlander was throwing as well as he had in three years, in that final start. As it pertains to the bullpen, Dombrowski did not do much, but he did add depth, and they will benefit from the addition of Bruce Rondon (knock on wood).

    Meanwhile, Ausmus is well aware that Nathan cannot continue as the closer if he continues to struggle. Either Nathan will return to form, or he will not, and Soria is more than capable, if not overly qualified for that role. Furthermore, in my mind, once the Tigers get to the playoffs, there are few teams in the AL that should scare them. Seattle comes to my mind as the main opposition, and I still believe that they are a year away.

    The Tigers are my pick to win the World Series behind another MVP campaign from Miguel Cabrera.

    Blair: The Tigers have a punishing offensive lineup. They will wear out mediocre pitching and hang tough against the front-liners. They are far less of a one-dimensional team than last year, as they have added speed with Anthony Gose, Jose Iglesias and Yoenis Cespedes. James McCann may surprise on the upside, as he should hit better than Alex Avila and is far less of a hindrance on the bases. Look for him to play a lot, especially in the second half.

    The team’s defense is also significantly improved up the middle with Gose, Iglesias and McCann as an upgrade over Bryan Holaday. They’ll have to play better defense because the pitching is suspect, both the rotation and relievers. They’ll need to stay healthy on the mound to remain in contention in the AL Central, as any one of four teams could win it.

    Since each of the divisional teams has flaws, I’m picking the defending champs until someone dethrones them. Although the speedier Tiger offense is now better suited to the postseason, I don’t see them going deep because of their shortcomings on the hill.

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